#FashionFridays!

I love old ladies. Not in a weird way, I just love their style. I spent all of last week trying to look like a cool skier person and it’s just not in me, I don’t have the ‘thing’. I call ‘ski pants’ salopettes, my sunglasses are prescription and I burn like a ginger person, the whole baggy ‘ski pants’, cool sunglasses that somehow look good when combined with a slightly grungy hat and a ski-bum goggle-tan just completely passes me by. I tried but it turns out that I’m just more of a woollen jumper, felt hat kind of gal (we all knew that already), so this week I’ve just embraced it.

old lady style fashion fridays

I like to think of this look as an older Audrey Hepburn dressing for a slightly wintery lunch in the garden of her Swiss safe haven, La Paisible. The skirt is from a Holyake charity shop, Holyake is the capital of old people, so I shop there all the time. On the downside it did take me about 3 weeks of airing this skirt in the garden to try and irradicate the smell of old ladies perfume and fag smoke from the 60s – it’s a little less musky now, I’m trying to embrace the scent as just part of the old lady look!

There is also something of espionage about the whole look…

Fashion Fridays Spy Style

As far as I’m concerned a day isn’t complete if you haven’t pretended to be following ‘a mark’ at some point during its unfolding. Plus this coat was also bought for £14 from a charity shop and I only bought it because there is a lady at my Oma’s residential home called Anise who has a mac just like it and I completely love her style, it’s like older Audrey meets older Katherine Hepburn – bliss. Yes I bought this coat to emulate a 72 year old with Alzheimers, but the woman looks good, there’s no two ways about it, I’ve never seen anyone rock Marks & Spencer’s loafers quite like it. Plus (and this is the best bit), I wore this exact outfit to the care home the other day and when I walked past Anise she said “you look good!” Score.

Fashion Fridays Old Lady Style

Happy Friday everyone!

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Let’s Focus on the Positives…

…I hate that Chris goes away all the time, it sucks balls and not in a good way (you know what I mean). When he’s not here I get all morose and mopey, washing my hair seems like a waste of good water and eating becomes more of an optional day time activity than a necessary bodily function (I know you might be wondering why this post is called Let’s Focus on the Positives – stick with me). Chris got back from Indonesia on Thursday and I was in a pretty bad way. It’s taken me the weekend but I have managed to get my mood a little more regulated, things look better today than they have done for a good couple of weeks. But the thing is, this is Christopher’s job (and quite frankly while I’m ramping up the old freelance career it’s COMPLETELY necessary), he’s been doing it for a year and a half now and it’s about bloody time I got sodding used to it. I’m not saying that I want to be happy about Chris going away – that would be weird and quite frankly a warning sign on the whole spending the rest of our lives together thing, but in order to level out my despair at his absence I think I need to come up with a list of positives to focus on the next time he goes away.

So let’s start; Five Good Things About Being Without Your Significant Other:

  1. Underwear Times: I’m not talking about using Chris’ absence as a reason for wearing all the comfy but shit underwear I own (you know, the ones with the weird pattern that hold the memories of when you first felt all independent and free buying yourself pants as a teenager, but which have since gone a sinister grey colour and are weirdly faded in the gusset)  – we’re getting married, I stopped buying lace underwear a good two years ago, if you keep that sort of crap up they’re just going to expect it forever. I’m talking about wandering around the house in it. You might think, don’t I do that anyway (?) but really unless it’s pre or post coital I tend to be fully (or mostly) clothed at all times, especially during the winter. Wondering around in a t-shirt and my pants would feel weird if Chris was around and fully clothed too, actually if he was also wearing a t-shirt and his pants it would be even more weird. But wandering around the house in that state of semi-dress when there is no-one in it but you is perfectly acceptable and more than a little bit fun.
  2. No Food Consultations: There’s not the whole “what do you feel like for dinner tonight?” “I feel like curry.” “Curry? Urgh, what about cheesy pasta?” “We always have cheesy pasta.” “That’s because it’s very very tasty.” “I still feel like curry though.” There’s just “CHEESY PASTA YEEEEAAAAHHH.”
  3. Work Absorption: Generally I work all day and then when Chris get’s home I spend the evening with him but when that doesn’t happen I have my evenings open to write and email and all sorts, which can lead to more productivity…but sometimes just a lot of time spent watching cat videos.
  4. Cat Favouritism: Not that I necessarily want to be the cats’ favourite owner but I LOVE that I am (love’s not a competition…but I’m winning). Little Gusgus just follows me around like a feisty little imaginary friend, and these days I can just walk up to my little scaredy cat Nunney and give her a stroke, which has taken MONTHS to achieve. Cat’s are fickle and I know that if Chris was the one feeding them and cuddling them at night they’d like him more, but he’s not, so there.

    Cats getting in the way of work
    Computer Cat
  5. Keeping the Magic Alive: Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer it if Chris were here all the time, getting under my feet, telling bad jokes, generally annoying and irritating me, but in the spirit of looking on the bright side I do have to admit that there is excitement to be found in his frequent absence; I get all funny in my tummy when I’m on my way to pick him up from the train station or when I get the text to say he’s landed and he’s on his way home. In fact I get butterflies every time I receive a text from him. I plan lovely things we’re going to do when he’s back, sometimes I do buy a pair of pants with a bit of lace on (as long as they’re in the M&S 3 for 2 section). I have plenty of opportunities to miss him and this means a constant reminder of just how important he is to me, how much we love each other and how lucky we are that this is the case. Abracafrikindabra.Two lovers in Paris

If there’s one thing I know about my brain it’s that it is inclined towards the melancholy, so hopefully this will be part of the training to get my mood at a more consistent level of contentment. I’m not asking to bounce out of bed every morning rejoicing in the rising of the sun (although that would be nice), I just really want my first thought to be “Oh! Another day!” not “Oh. Another day.” – if you know what I mean. Onwards and upwards people, onwards and upwards!

Dot and Lucy Engagement Photoshoot

 

Oh my God I forgot one! What I fool.

6.   Sometimes I get to go too! Now THAT’S a pretty good deal.chilling out in vietnam

See, once you look for one positive, you’ll find many more!

How To…

…Plan a wedding when you couldn’t give a shit about weddings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for two people celebrating their love in the traditional way of getting  married and most weddings I’ve been to I’ve balled my eyes out and had a great time with everyone else but in today’s “Which Disney Princess Are You?” society, I feel that weddings have kind of lost all sincerity about them. People seem to get married because they want a wedding not because they want a marriage, which is why the wedding industry has become worth a huge £10 billion in the UK alone and why the average wedding costs around £21k, because who cares about a deposit for a house, I want to wear a Cinderella dress!?

I’m digressing…and also getting married. It’s nearly two months away now and I really haven’t had that much to do with the planning, so far I’ve felt like my wedding is happening to me instead of me feeling like I’m actively participating in it, but that is nobodies fault but my own. I’ve wanted to marry Chris since our fourth date and I always just thought we’d decide the time was right, call up our immediate loved ones and say something like “are you free next Wednesday? We’re getting married” but then when we actually did get engaged (and that’s a whole story in itself) it turned out that actually what everyone else wanted (I must say including Chris) was a big, family wedding. So here we are with two months to go, a day-time guest list of 80 and having to come up with a table plan so that the ones who don’t like each other don’t have to look at each other, and the ones who are really fussy are sat exactly next to the people they want to be.

A couple of weeks ago I realised that I was so un-excited by this prospect that it was genuinely depressing, I was excited to be married, just not to get married, so I’ve decided to take control, I’m getting my wedding-on.

In case anyone else is feeling disillusioned about their forthcoming nuptials, I’ve put together 5 top tips for planning a wedding when you actually couldn’t give a shit. Enjoy:

  1. Realise that your wedding is not for you. People will constantly tell you that what you want for your “big day” is the most important thing, they’re lying to you. You’re getting married for you, you’re having a wedding for those who want to celebrate with you, and actually the more people you have in your life who want to celebrate your love with you, the luckier you are, so embrace it, do it for them, it’s a hella better reason than doing it because you’d like to be an animated “princess” for a day.
  2. Delegate. I’m really lucky because I have a sister and a mother who are AMAZING at this sort of thing. The amount of times when they’ve asked me a question like “what about favours?”, seen my blank and blinking expression and said “don’t worry, I’ll sort that out.” Literally would be having a reception in a completely blank room with no decorations or seating plan without them to help me.
  3. Choose good music. Now this is where I would say to anyone to really go for what YOU want. So many couples’ relationship and memories of each other and of special points in their lives together, are based around a love of certain songs. Use those songs, tell the relative who’s telling you to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon to shove it and walk down to whatever means the most to you as a couple. Those moments really are just for you two, so make sure you stick to your bridal guns.
  4. Make things! Emotionally invest in the things you would never normally care about by making them yourself, that way when you see them hanging somewhere in your venue or on your tables you’ll feel really good about them, instead of thinking of them as the useless little touches that no-one cares about anyway. Plus it’s WAY CHEAPER. All the invitations for our wedding have been handmade (although, alas it would be an untruth to tell you that I did them – I provided comedy and alcoholic support).How to plan a wedding when you don't care about weddings Now I’m on to bunting and attaching vintage chandelier crystals to things (too many things probably). Getting into it.
  5. Try. Even if table plans make you roll your eyes and you’re quickly loosing all respect for the guests who instead of having thanked you for the invite, have gotten their knickers in a twist because you haven’t invited their other half (who you’ve NEVER MET before), just try to be excited. Focus on the stuff you are excited about; seeing the person you’re marrying standing at the end of the aisle waiting for you, having a glass of fizz and getting ready with your nearest and dearest, having a good old dance with your mates. Forget about the people who have pissed you off, you don’t have to spend any time with them on the day if you don’t want to anyway. Bridal prerogative.Handmade wedding invitations

I hope these have helped! Let’s go get hitched (not you and me…that would be weird)!

How to…

…create good things from bad.

Sometimes I see mental health issues as some kind of weird blessing. Couple of reasons: because my bad can be really, really bad I am able to truly appreciate how good the good really is. I used to envy the people who seemed to drift, freely and lazily through life but now I almost feel sorry for them, I have the experience of extremes to draw from, and it benefits me greatly, they do not.  Also, because my fight with anxiety and depression helpfully highlighted some changes that I really needed to make to my mindset and my living and this essentially freed me from a situation in which I was completely stuck and deeply unhappy.

Somedays I feel like that, but not today. Today feels shit. Yesterday did too. Suppose you can’t suffer from depression without getting depressed sometimes – bugger.

So today I made a decision! I’m absolutely happiest when I’m creating things. I like reading, and drinking wine in front of the telly really can feel blissful, getting dressed up to go out for cocktails can be fun, but really I am my most excited, content, joyful when I’m in the zone and making something from not much (mostly just thoughts – and sometimes a bit of old curtain). The only problem is my slightly malfunctioning brain; instead of waking me up in the morning and saying “go forth Milldred! Create things of such wonderment that people will laugh at you until they’re blue in the face and you’ll bloody love it!” It says, “oh look, it’s the day-time, we don’t like that do we? No, let’s stay in bed, shall we? Yes. You know it’s really not safe out there, you’re better off in here, with the cats…and Facebook.”

old curtain for making new things!
Wasn’t lying about the bits of old curtain…

But I’m taking charge! I’m going to create something, anything, at least one thing a day. And by saying to my brain every morning, ‘back off you old grouch, we’re making knitted pom poms today and we’re going to like it, aren’t we? YES.” I’ll be able to take back my mood and turn the day into a positive one, instead of a negative one. It can be anything; a blog; a short story; the chapter of a book; a tea cosy; a table runner; a great opportunity; a treacle tart (sounds like a good one for tomorrow). And I’m going to challenge myself. I mean for starters I’m already trying to create a whole self-employed business thing out of thin air (also a great deal of passion…but mostly thin air – if it keeps everyone else alive I can work with it). Yesterday I sewed part one of my bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding (it’s currently see-through, part two is the slip – would be bad if I forgot that bit). I’ve signed up to do a craft fair, to try to sell some the nonsense I make, because I love the idea of the things I have so much fun creating going into someone elses’ home and becoming part of their everyday lives (plus I have my half of the mortgage to pay). I’ve never sewn a shirt before so I bought a cheap pattern and some £2.99 a meter cotton and I’m going to try to make a shirt, probably going to turn out really badly but at least I will have tried and you can’t get take-two without doing a take-one. Today I’ve created this blog post, tomorrow I’m going try to pitch some freelance articles and create an opportunity to get my work published.

creating one thing everyday
And I did make a pom pom today!

Once I’ve gotten out of bed to create one thing, who knows what other things might present themselves during the day? I’m taking charge! And I urge anyone else who’s pesky brain is keeping them down to do the same. And I’m going to need picture evidence of all that is created…

create one things every day, knitted pom pom
Now there’s one for the craft fair
create something new every day, knitted pom pom
Not bad…POM POM

By the by I shall be posting a daily picture of whatever I’ve created every day on my social media so follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the #createaday low down!

Travelling taught me…

…a whole heap of stuff! I haven’t really done that much travelling in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to spent a lot of time holidaying and sometimes living in Europe but my travels outside of this lovely continent have been minimal thus far in my life. So I knew that my trip to Vietnam and Brunei was going to be a learning curve, just not quite such a steep one!

Okay, here we go…

  1. Never carry your passport around with you when you’re sightseeing or exploring and always leave a bit of money and a credit card out of your purse and in your hotel room.
  2. I need a giant and gold Buddha in my garden…Get holidays tree! Travel, Vietnam, what travel taught me
  3. …To go next to me pink sparkly Happy New Year tree.
  4. I need to improve my maths to avoid getting conned out of the correct change.
  5. Food is just better when it is in miniature.hotel food, vietnam, cocktail hour
  6. Being in a completely blacked-out plane whilst it shudderingly and shakily descends towards earth in a full-on thunder AND lightening storm is HORRIBLE. Fully abused the free booze in the airport lounge after that experience.
  7. The Vietnamese sure know how to make a mausoleum.Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi
  8. Severe food-poisoning on a thirteen and a half hour flight is a harrowing experience.
  9. Air Malaysia toilet paper is proper rough…
  10. Money does grow on trees.Ho Chi Minh, September 23rd Park Tet Flower Markets
  11. Don’t look up the symptoms of Malaria and then consult your doctor about it – you’ll spend hours in A&E.
  12. Giving blood is a less traumatic experience than I remember it being.
  13. Hotel slippers are generally quite small.Small hotel slippers, Ho Chi Minh, Saigon
  14. There can be great inspiration in travel.travel writing in vietnam
  15. There can be great relaxation in travel.relaxing in vietnam
  16. I think out of all religions I’ve ever come across I like Buddhism the best.The temple of literature, Hanoi
  17. I need to take a leaf out of the Vietnamese ladies’ book and learn some self-defence.Vietnam Women's Museum, Hanoi
  18. I need to stop letting Chris take pictures of me.long-haul travel attire
  19. I’m a very lucky lady to be able to experience other countries and cultures. I have so much compared to some of the people I met on my travels and I should remember to be thankful for that every single day.Lucky lady in Hanoi, Vientam
  20. I’m not a born or natural traveler but I think I should see as much of this world as I can, to widen my mindset as well as my knowledge of the planet I live on and the world I live in.A gateway to the future.

Selamat Pagi!

Unfortunately there shall be no pictures accompanying this post because whilst in Ho Chi Minh City my handbag was cut off me by a gentleman (not so gentle) on a moped, who then promptly drove away with it. Let us all hope that his life improves to the point where he no longer has to traumatise tourists in this way, unfortunate bastard. Without my phone I was unable to take pictures and document the remainder of the trip, so you will have to settle with my well thought out words, good job I’m a writer.

After Vietnam I headed to Brunei, the self-proclaimed land of peace! It certainly is very quiet there but this by no means straightened out my learning curve…

10 things Brunei has taught me:

  1. Brunians love gold, they can and will paint anything and everything gold. Something I fully intend to apply to my own life.
  2. Watching monkey’s play in the wild is such a lovely, heart-warming experience. It also made me make funny noises – like the noises I make when I see kittens.
  3. The shopping in Brunei is ACE… and very sparkly.
  4. I’m really allergic to insect bites.
  5. Being a couple of feet away from a real live crocodile will make you want to sit on your hands.
  6. Air conditioning is a gift from the people, to the people, heat is a test from the heavens: who can stay awake the longest (I’m not a winner in this game).
  7. The South China Sea is very beautiful, especially when viewed from a cushioned sun-lounger.
  8. A successful politician either speaks without actually saying anything or just states the bleeding obvious.
  9. Very rich countries should really think about providing toilet paper in their public toilets. Really.
  10. Probably couldn’t live in a country where alcohol is banned for very long (I’m thinking around two weeks, max).

So that’s what I learned from Brunei but stay posted for a blog on what travelling in general has taught me, some say life is a stage, I think it’s class room – not that I learned all that much in school – I’m getting it all in now.

How To…

…Survive long haul flights!

Last week I arrived in the amazing Vietnamese city of Hanoi, after around 28 hours of travelling. We set off at 5am on Tuesday morning and arrived at the hotel at around 3pm on Wednesday afternoon…scrap that – around 34 hours of travelling (if I’ve got my maths right, which frankly is entirely unlikely).

Now I’ve only ever done one other long haul trip in my life, a nine-hour flight to Calgary, Canada. It was pretty bad, everyone told me that it would be completely fine because I’d have lots of movies to choose from and could sleep the rest of the time or make friends with fellow passengers, that sort of thing (it didn’t help that I was travelling entirely alone). However, when I got on the plane I quickly realised that I was on the EasyJet of long haul flights, with tiny TV screens, sporadically placed around the economy class cabin, during the entire trip they played three films, one of which was Harry Potter (seen, like a million times already), We Bought a Zoo (don’t watch it, Matt Damon how are the mighty Jason Bourne fallen) and one other film which must have been really bad because I have irrevocably scrapped it from my memory bank. All the films also looked like they had been bought by one of the flight attendants on a layover in Thailand at what I can only assume was a particularly dodgy pirate DVD market.

Up in smoke went my optimistic hopes for making new flight friends when I found that I was sat next to two hardcore mathematicians on their way to Calgary for some kind of clever but dull person conference. They spent 9 hours discussing a complicated equation involving the letter C. That’s NINE HOURS of in-depth debate and argument about what “C” was, and 9 hours of me refraining from telling them that it’s actually the letter at the beginning of a word that would perfectly describe them both. By the time I got off this flight I was a mumbling wreck. I met up with a bunch of people I’d be travelling to the hotel with and we made friends (finally) but then after I’d arrived at the hotel, had a shower and came down to dinner, they reintroduced themselves – yes ladies and gents, I’d looked so bad when I got off that plane that once I’d washed and put a little bit of makeup on I was genuinely unrecognisable from the sweaty, greasy, mumbling plane person they’d first met. And they say you can never have a second first impression.

So, understandably I was not looking forward to a 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur (followed by a three-hour flight to Hanoi) and was determined to be more prepared than the last time. So I’ve put together seven tips on long haul flying, to help anyone who finds themselves having to spend nearly two whole days in motion:

  1. Stretchy trousers! One must have stretchy trousers, I refer to mine as ‘yoga pants’, basically elasticated waist band floppy things that Chris bought me back from Indonesia (I know someone else who calls them “Poo Pants” – better name). When it was safe to do so I removed my belt (I listen to the safety announcements) I went to the toilet to change from jeans to freedom. It was ace.
  2. Fluffy socks! Flights are cold places and the blankets they give you are like bigger but shitter pashminas so pack a pair of bed socks in your hand luggage – cosy.Fluffy Flight Socks
  3. Snacks! I didn’t know this but (and I don’t know about other airlines) but from the time you step on a Malaysia Air flight they behave as if you’re already in the time zone of the plane’s destination. Which essentially meant that at what was British breakfast time I was being served dinner, and then what was around 12am British time I was served breakfast. This sort of thing just messes with your head as well as your stomach and can result in a good 10 hours without a second meal so I recommend buying many snacks in the airport and then just eat when you’re hungry and don’t ask any questions. Best way.
  4. Cosmetics! Apparently long haul flights are really bad for your skin. There are millions of YouTube videos about it so I did my research and did my best to adhere to the skin ritual I had learned, I had to make a few bits up because I couldn’t be bothered to buy any new products which essentially just resulted in me having a really slippy face for 12 hours, however, it was a pleasant distraction from the boredom of sitting in the same seat for that long.
  5. Don’t try to look glamorous! I’m one of those people still suffering from the hangover of glamorous air travel. Actually I’m not old enough to have properly experienced this so it’s like having a hangover without the good drunk bit firs (but whoever remembers the drunk bit anyway?). I tend to think that air travel is some sort of smart event and try to dress as such but I have now tried twice to look like a glamorous mystery woman of the world when getting off a long haul flight and twice I have failed most spectacularly. I think I’m just going to accept that I will always look as shiny and greasy as an oil slick and deal with it. Plus when you look around, everyone else looks a wee bit slick too so we’re all in the same boat (plane).Malaysia Airlines Blanket
  6. Don’t go alone! Travelling alone sucks, not seeing lovely things in far away countries but the actual getting to those countries. I literally could not have made it through 34 hours of traveling all by myself, which is actually something that Chris does all the time, for which I take my (hopefully soon to be a traditional, conical, rice-picking) hat off to him.
  7. Travel with some one who’s freakishly tall! Another great thing about Chris is that he’s deformed (6ft5), which resulted in us getting awesome seats with epic leg space.

Early morning coach to Heathrow!

So there you have it – ram your hand luggage with stretchy trousers, fluffy bed sock, snacks, shit loads of moisturiser and a really tall person (they probably won’t fit that well) and the whole thing turns itself into a random motion movie day. Go get travelling!